I grew up in a union town and I served as the union administrator for my unit. Nothing Drucker says about them can surprise me.
Drucker argues that they are no more legitimate than modern management, as union leaders are elected through a process that does not really engage most union members. His central claim is that they are a negative force that serve to counterbalance the corporate management. They can’t serve the individual because they are charged with providing uniform circumstances across different plants and different companies.
My memories of Detroit unions are distant and colored by what I have read rather than by what I experienced. When law enforcement agencies recently discovered that Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa may have been buried near the condo that my parents owned, it brought a host of stories back to mind. However, as I thought about most of them, I concluded that the bulk of them were generated by secondary sources, as I could never have been in a position to see that news first-hand.
My union experience at school paralleled Drucker’s comments. Most of the teachers had no connection with the union and saw it only as an organization that took a monthly fee from their paychecks. In theory, they received more money from us because of the contract but my school actually paid more before the contract. Again, the group didn’t do much for the individual as it tried to enforce a uniform policy across 6 or 7 very different schools.